To supplement the at-home training they’ve been doing, Minnesota United players began voluntary individual training sessions at the National Sports Center in Blaine yesterday. Director of Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation and Head Athletic Trainer Stacey Hardin has been working on constructing the protocols for these sessions over the last several weeks.
“For individual training, we had a lot of guidance from the league, based off their panel of medical experts,” she said. “We worked here, locally, with our group of doctors and medical experts as well as people at the state level. So, really a collaboration of everyone on the medical side and on the league side to figure out how we could return in a capacity that was safe for everybody involved.”
Although the players have been training on their own since the 2020 season was suspended following Minnesota’s win over San Jose, Head Coach Adrian Heath was glad to have them back on the training ground, as much for the mental part of the game as anything having to do with fitness.
“There’s a physical element. But I think mentally, as much as anything, getting them out, back in a familiar training facility, working in front of the coaches again, I think will be a huge boost for the players,” he said. “It’s been a good first day. The lads look in really good shape. And tomorrow, we’ll sort of increase in demand.”
Midfielder Ethan Finlay echoed that sentiment, praising the practice field and talking about how much better it was to run on grass versus having to run on roads, but also stressing the importance of seeing friendly faces somewhere other than a computer screen, even if it’s from a distance.
“Outside of your family and friends, most soccer players consider their teammates their next closet people in their lives. At least I do,” he said. “So to see some of those guys and see the coaches — just talking soccer has been fun, and catching up and seeing how guys are doing in person. You can talk on the phone, you can talk over a Zoom call, but there’s nothing quite like being able to see that person and their emotions. Today was fun and special, and hopefully we keep progressing.”